Yes, we should be socialists February 21, 2010Posted by Summerspeaker in Technocracy, The Singularity, Transhumanism.
Robert Wiblin asks the question. I answer. While his post provides a useful discussion of capitalism’s ever-increasing absurdity, he needlessly stays within the confines of mainstream political discourse. Wiblin paints the picture of the market as a reasonable system for past and present but potentially disastrous for the future. To the contrary, it has been harmful and irrational from the start. It’s an obviously backwards way to pursue the common good, requiring belief in unseen appendages. (Almost like this.) I support libertarian socialism at any technology level; as my primitivist comrades tell me, the best evidence suggests early humans had rather egalitarian and communal social structures. The bosses have prevented, crushed, and co-opted popular revolutions in modern times, but they’ve come close enough to suggest the possibility of the dream.
Regardless of feasibly of anarchism before industrialization, a huge material change had occurred by the start of the twentieth century. In the Technical Alliance, a group of engineers and academics got together and concluded that money and private property had become a joke in the new world of mechanically produced abundance. If scarcity had previously stopped the species from achieving the good life for everyone, that hindrance was gone by the time Howard Scott and company did their survey. They unambiguously showed that North America had the natural, technical, and labor resources necessary to provide plenty to all. That was in the 1920s. Needless to say, we could do orders of magnitude better with the technology of today. Human organization remains the only problem.
Even accepting speculative assertions about our fundamental nature that rule out rational action for collective benefit, we transhumanists should still embrace Scott’s vision as a goal. If humans aren’t up to the task, then we’ll enhance ourselves and/or design artificial intelligence to manage production and distribution. If the present form of capitalism continues into the era of molecular manufacturing and strong AI, the harm done to the species will be almost immeasurable. We currently don’t have a clue how to deal with abundance, as evidenced by the choking restrictions placed on the flow of digital information. We have the technical ability for each person on the internet to have access to every publication, work of art, and program ever created. This would hardly cost anything. Indeed, the process would happen spontaneously if we removed the coercion; nothing but constant vigilance from authorities prevents it. Unless we transform the distribution system, I fear the same damn thing will happen once technology makes physical goods as plentiful as digital ones.
While I stand by my commitment to anarchism under any circumstances, socialism/technocracy as a central transhumanist aim should stretch across existing political categories. I can grasp the argument for clinging to capitalism in the sort run as much as I disagree with it, but only a love of hierarchy for its own sake can justify the market once we reach the Singularity.